I had the honour of responding on behalf of the BC Green Caucus to the Ministerial Statement delivered by Premier John Horgan on the passing of Thomas Berger.
Mr. Berger was a powerful advocate for Indigenous rights and title, former B.C. Supreme Court Justice, Member of Parliament and Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.
It’s difficult to stand after the member for Abbotsford West’s and the Premier’s remarks and be able to offer anything new or anything remarkable. I’ve been in this House for not very long, certainly not as long as they have. However, I think the perspective that I can bring to this today is one of gratitude for the work of a powerful and incredible man and incredible advocate that helped my families and our families and our relatives, not only in British Columbia but across the country, to be able to recognize the rights and the title that have existed and continue to exist here. It was only chambers like the one that I have the honour of standing in today that had chosen to ignore them.
It was the work of many of our legislative ancestors but also people, such as Justice Thomas Berger and many others, who decided that they were going to act with courage and defend those rights and that title and probably — not probably, definitely — go against the grain of where society was at. That is the mark of a true leader.
It’s with that that we recognize today, and we stand, and I have the honour of saying these few words on behalf of the Third Party, for Mr. Justice Thomas Berger and his passing. To think that all of that history could have passed and did pass…. When I was elected to this place in 2017, Mr. Berger was called upon by us still to assist the province to help navigate a very difficult and tricky situation. So it’s with that that I don’t want to hazard repeating what has already been said.
As well, I think it’s important to recognize with humility that the work that we have ahead of us needs to reflect the courage of people like the late Mr. Berger. May his flame that he brought to the work that he did throughout his career inspire us to stand up and courageously advocate for those who are disadvantaged in our society, those who our society and the rules of governance and systems that have been in place have marginalized and to speak as powerfully for them as the example that we have in celebrating the life of Mr. Berger.
With that, I want to raise my hands in gratitude for the trail that he has blazed, the space that he’s created for us to have new and different conversations in chambers such as this one. May his example inspire us to be courageous and bold in our work and note that what might be uncomfortable and might be difficult today, future generations will look back and thank us just as we are thanking him for creating the example that he has been to us.
With that, I’d like to thank the Premier for his wonderful comments and the member for Abbotsford West for his comments, as well, and certainly, the B.C. Green caucus and the Third Party share the sentiments that have been brought forward here today.
HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM. Thank you.